The construction landmark came just ten months after the two companies signed agreements to establish the world’s lowest cost, fully integrated aluminum industry within the country.
First production from the smelter and rolling mill is scheduled for early 2013. Initially, the smelter will produce 740,000 metric tons of primary metal. The rolling mill will initially produce 380,000 metric tons of food grade can sheet. Both are designed for significant expansion.
In marking the occasion Engineer Abdullah Busfar, vice president Ma’aden Aluminium SBU and Project Management said, “Today we have begun laying the foundations of an entirely new industry for Saudi Arabia. This is an industry that will create value for the project partners and their shareholders, numerous different opportunities for Saudi and international businesses and thousands of new direct and indirect jobs. That we are able to do so just over 10 months after Ma’aden signed the joint venture agreement with Alcoa speaks volumes for the hard work, professionalism and dedication of the project teams.”
Ken Wisnoski, Alcoa’s president of Global Primary Products Growth said “the event represented an important step in fulfilling a commitment to a disciplined budget and project schedule.
“We thank the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its continued support, the leadership of our respective companies and, most importantly, the people who are turning the vision of diversifying Saudi Arabia’s economy into reality.
“This project, and future expansion, will be the region’s first, and the world's lowest cost, fully integrated aluminium complex. It is poised to fulfill a significant share of the growth in global aluminium demand in years to come,” Wisnoski said.
In addition to the smelter and rolling mill, the second phase of the joint venture will include a bauxite mine with an initial capacity of 4 million metric tons per year and an alumina refinery with an initial capacity of 1.8 million metric tons per year. First production for mine and refinery is scheduled for early 2014. Alcoa will provide alumina feedstock for the smelter in the interim.
Total capital investment in the joint venture is expected to be approximately SAR 40.5 billion ($US 10.8 billion). Ma’aden holds 74.9 percent of the joint venture; Alcoa 25.1 percent with provisions in place to enable an increase to 40 percent.